William Eamon

Regents Professor, Emeritus  williameamon


Office Hours:

By appointment

Domenici Hall 210




B.A., University of Montana, History, 1968

M.A., University of Montana, History, 1970

Ph.D., University of Kansas, History of Science, 1977


Curriculum Vitae:  William Eamon


External Links:




Research and Teaching Interests:  History of Science and Medicine, Early Modern Italy and Spain, Science in the Atlantic World, Renaissance Alchemy, Astrology, and Magic.

William Eamon is a Regents and Distinguished Achievement Professor Emeritus.  His research focuses on the history of science and medicine in Renaissance Italy and Spain, and on science and popular culture in early modern Europe.  He likes to view the past through the eyes of actors on the margins of intellectual life.  He has written, for example, about 16th century “professor of secrets” Leonardo Fioravanti, a surgeon who founded an alternative medical movement in Renaissance Italy; about medieval and early modern astrologers, alchemists, charlatans, natural magicians, and peddlers of wonder drugs; and, in his current project, about the Spanish naturalists in the New World.

Professor Eamon has received numerous grants and awards for his research.  He has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, and the Renaissance Society of America; and was a Mellon Faculty Fellow at Harvard University, a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, and a Villa I Tatti Fellow at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, Italy.  In 2004-2006, Eamon held the S.P. and Margaret Manasse Research Chair in the College of Arts and Sciences; and in 2007 received NMSU’s Award for Exceptional Career Achievement in Creative Scholarly Activity.  He was named a Distinguished Achievement Professor in 2012.

Professor Eamon has lectured widely to both specialists and the general public.  He has addressed audiences in Barcelona, Berlin, Oxford, Cambridge, Florence, London, Heidelberg, Geneva, and Los Angeles; has taught at Harvard, Würzburg, and Valencia; and has lectured at UC-Berkeley, Universidad Complutense (Madrid), Indiana University, the Huntington Library, the Getty Library, the University of Michigan, Notre Dame, the University of the West Indies, and numerous other venues.  In 2005, he gave the Church Memorial Lecture at Brown University; and in 2004 was the Klaus Jankofsky Lecturer in Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. In 2003, Eamon was a Visiting Research Professor at the Instituto de Historia de la Ciencia y Documentación, University of Valencia, Spain.

Professor Eamon is currently working on two book projects: Science and Everyday Life in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1750 (under contract with Cambridge University Press), a book about the ways science interacted with popular culture on the eve of the Scientific Revolution; and Conquistadors of Nature: How the Spanish Explorers Paved the Way to Modern Science, a book for a broad audience about the origins of scientific discovery.


Selected Publications:

download (2)The Professor of Secrets: Mystery, Medicine, and Alchemy in Renaissance Italy (Washington, 2010)

Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Princeton, 1994)  download (3)

Coeditor (with Victor Navarro Brotòns), Beyond the Black Legend: Spain and the Scientific Revolution / Más allá de la Leyenda Negra: España y la Revolución Científica (Valencia, 2007)

“Spanish Science in the Age of the New,” in A Companion to the Spanish Renaissance, ed. H. Kallendorf (Brill 2019). (Link to document)

“How the West Was Won” (essay review of H. Floris Cohen: The rise of modern science explained: a comparative history, 2015), in Metascience 2017. (Link to document).

“Books of Secrets and Vernacular Knowledge,” in Dictionary of Early Modern Philosophy (forthcoming).

“La Revolución Científica y los ritmos de la vida cotidiana,” Revista de Occidente (June 2017). (Link to document)

“Corn, Cochineal, and Quina: The Zilsel Thesis in an Iberian Setting,” in Antonio Sánchez and Henrique Leitäo (eds.), Artisanal Culture in Early Modern Iberian and Atlantic Worlds. Special Issue, Centaurus (forthcoming in 2018).

“A Theater of Experiments: Giambattista Della Porta and the Scientific Culture of Renaissance Naples,” In The Optics of Giambattista Della Porta (ca. 1535–1615): A Reassessment ed. by Arianna Borrelli, Giora Hon, and Yaakov Zik (Springer 2017). (Link to document)

“Six Centuries of Secularism,” Aeon, 22 June 2016 (Link to document)

“Astrology and Society,” in A Companion to Renaissance Astrology, ed. Brendan Dooley (Brill, 2014). (Link to document)

“The Difference That Made Spain, the Difference That Spain Made,” in Medical Cultures of the Early Modern Spanish Empire, ed. by John Slater, Maríaluz López Terrada, and José Pardo-Tomás (London: Ashgate, 2014). (Link to document)

“On the Skins of Goats and Sheep: (Un)masking the Secrets of Nature in Early Modern Popular Culture,” in Visual Rhetorics of Secrecy in Early Modern Europe, ed. Tim McCall, Sean Roberts, and Giancarlo Fiorenza (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 54-75. (Link to document)

“How to Read a Book of Secrets,” in Secrets and Knowledge in Medicine and Science, 1500-1800, ed. Alisha Rankin and Elaine Leong (London: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 23-46

“‘Nuestros males no son constitucionales, sino circunstanciales’: The Black Legend and the History of Early Modern Spanish Science,” Colorado Review of Hispanic Studies 7 (2009): 13-30

“Appearance, Artifice, and Reality: Collecting Secrets in a Courtly Culture,” in The Gentleman, the Virtuoso, the Inquirer: Vincencio Juan de Lastanosa and the Art of Collecting in Early Modern Spain, ed. Mar Rey-Bueno and Miguel López-Pérez (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008), 127-43.

“Physicians and the Reform of Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe” Acta Histriae, 17 (2009): 615-26

“The Canker Friar: Piety and Intrigue in an Era of New Diseases,” in Piety and Plague in Europe: From Antiquity to the Early Modern Period, ed. Franco Mormando and Thomas W. Worcester, Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2007), 156-76

Science and Everyday Life in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1750 (book in progress; under contract with Cambridge University Press)

Web Documents:

“Labyrinth of Nature” Blog.

“ANTIPOCRAS: A Medieval Treatise on Magical Medicine By Brother Nicholas of the Preaching Friars (c. 1270),” translated by William Eamon (Link to document)

“Medieval Wonder Drugs: Two 13th Century Snake Tracts,” translated by William Eamon (Link to document)


HON 425: The History of Magic and Witchcraft in Medieval and Renaissance Europe

HON 224: God and Nature: Science and Religion in the West